Ump on disputed call that cost Anthony Rizzo a HR: ‘The system worked’

PITTSBURGH — Why didn’t the umpires go directly to a video review of the fair-foul call on Anthony Rizzo’s first-inning shot over the wall Friday instead of changing the call on the field first?

“If we did that, we would have gotten the call wrong,” said crew chief Jeff Kellogg, who eventually ejected Cubs manager Joe Maddon after the sequence cost Rizzo a home run. “We want to be right on the field.

“If we all got together thinking that that ball was foul and then not do anything about it, then that’s a problem here.”

Because, he said, the resulting inconclusive video review would have let the fair call stand in error after three of the four umpires felt certain that the ball was foul.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon and leadoff man Anthony Rizzo object to Rizzo's leadoff homer in the first being ruled a foul ball after an umpire crew chief review.

That part of the process is what Maddon omitted in his otherwise logical rationale about the procedure that led to first-base ump Clint Fagan’s original fair call being overturned, which left the Cubs, not the Pirates, seeking a video review.

When that review determined the call “stands” (inconclusive) instead of being “confirmed,” it left Maddon fuming about the on-field switch and the lost home run.

Maddon never argued the ball was fair, on the field or later with the media. “Fair or foul never came up,” Kellogg said.

Maddon emphasized to reporters his problem was changing the call without utilizing the video system first.

Kellogg emphasized fair-foul calls often are hard to discern from video, and that’s part of why umpires are charged with making their best call on the field first.

Kellogg said three of the umpires were sure the ball was foul, two of them having angles to see the ball pass the foul pole on the foul side.

“We’re that confident we got the call right. And from everybody I’ve talked to with baseball, we got the call right,” Kellogg said. “A supervisor called me up and said, ‘Great job doing what you did there, and you got the call right.’ ”

Said second-base umpire Tim Timmons: “In this situation, because we had the latitude to change it before we go to review, the system worked.

“The system worked, even though it didn’t work the way Joe exactly wanted it to.”

Follow me on Twitter @GDubCub.

Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com

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